Progress Report: Part 2

Got good energy coming in with my brother and family visiting since the weekend – here’s the hyena in his natural habitat with his siblings (Adam on the left, Billy about to grab my ear):

 

Got my scan results and my marching orders for the rest of this round of chemo. Generally there is good progress, and my oncologist will continue through the next infusion (2 weeks from today) and then work on scheduling yet another session of radioembolism — evidently he saw enough promise in the PET scan that going this route is the best way to go at this point. Hey, as long as I don’t have to pay for it… that bill is scary.

He’s also spoken to the powers that be, so I’m not having to wait several months this time just to have the treatment done, this is what took away so much of my progress from last year. While it was nice to be off of chemo and heal, I just didn’t have enough of an effective protocol (or healing energy) to continue the onslaught without meds as we’ve learned from the last CT scan. Because, let me tell you, if you wanna get rid of cancer, you sorta need some meds to do so. I’ve learned that hard nugget of truth the only way you can. But, I’m still hard at work researching what to do when the chemo goes away, and will be employing new tactics when the time comes where I’ll be told i’m all-clear from cancer. Looking at the results below, it’s quite easy for me to visualize that scenario, as it’s the only dream that’s been formed in this thick skull of mine for the last 18 months. I thought I was going to get there by my birthday last year, that was a most optimistic prediction.

But we’re winning here. We’re going to be winning so much you’re going to get sick of it. I’ve not gotten sick yet… a little icky maybe, but that’s to be expected from chemo.

I’ve bolded the phrases below that stand out to me. I admit I tend to look at only the positive stuff but in case someone decides I’m only looking at the good parts, I will point out that they also saw “scattered coronary calcifications”, which is the same plaque they warn you about in health class. While my oncologist doesn’t think it’s an issue, it’s time I ate a little better to get rid of those deposits in my blood vessels.

CT Chest with IV Contrast
CT Abdomen and Pelvis with IV Contrast

Comparison: CT chest abdomen pelvis dated January 3, 2017

Indication: f/u colon cancer, C19 Malignant neoplasm of rectosigmoid junction (CMS-HCC), C20 Malignant neoplasm of rectum (CMS-HCC), C78.7
Secondary malignant neoplasm of liver and intrahepatic bile duct (CMS-HCC)

Technique: CT imaging was performed of the chest, abdomen, and pelvis following the uncomplicated administration of intravenous contrast (Isovue-300, 150 mL at 2 mL/sec). Iodinated contrast was used due to the indications for the examination, to improve disease detection and to further define anatomy. The most recent serum creatinine is 0.7 mg/dL.
3-D maximal intensity projection (MIP) reconstructions of the chest were performed to potentially increase study sensitivity. Coronal images were also generated and reviewed.

Findings:
Chest:
There is a right chest port with tip terminating within the proximal right atrium. The visualized thyroid is unremarkable. There is a four vessel aortic arch with the left vertebral artery arising from the aortic arch.
The heart is normal in size without evidence of pericardial effusion. Scattered coronary calcifications, noted in the LAD. There is no evidence of mediastinal, hilar, or axillary lymphadenopathy.

The central airways are patent. Stable 2-3mm calcified nodule in the right lower lobe anterior segment. There are no suspicious pulmonary nodules visualized. There is no pleural effusion or pneumothorax.

Abdomen and pelvis:
The liver is normal in size. There is capsular retraction and nodular contours in the inferior and anterior right liver, which may be pseudocirrhosis due to treated metastases. Again seen are numerous hepatic metastases, some of which are calcified. There is interval decrease of ill-defined low density metastases within segment 2 (series 2, image 101). The majority of lesions are stable or slightly decreased in size compared to the prior examination. Representative partially calcified lesion in segment 6 measures 2.3 x 3.4 cm, previously measured 3.6 x 2.3 cm (series 2, image 137). Partially calcified lesion in segment 5 measures 2.1 x 2.1 cm, previously measured 2.3 x 2.3 cm (series 2, 2026). No new hepatic lesions identified. There is no evidence of intrahepatic or extrahepatic biliary duct dilatation. There is irregular thickening and nodular enhancement within the gallbladder which is stable and likely due to metastatic disease. The pancreas and bilateral adrenal glands are unremarkable. The spleen is large in size measuring up to 16 cm.

The kidneys enhance symmetrically without evidence of focal renal lesions or hydronephrosis. The urinary bladder is unremarkable. The prostate is large in size measuring up to 4.9 cm.

The small and large bowel are normal in caliber. Redemonstration of small gastric varices. Previously seen sigmoid mass is less prominent. There is interval long segment sigmoid colonic bowel thickening, some of which may be due to underdistention or to treatment effects. The appendix is normal.

The abdominal aorta is normal in caliber. There is interval decrease of lymph node near the gastric lesser curvature, which is subcentimeter  (series 2, image 115). No evidence of abdominal or pelvic lymphadenopathy. There is trace fluid in the pelvis.

There are no aggressive lytic or sclerotic lesions identified.

Impression:
1. Slight interval decrease in size of some of the left hepatic metastases. The remaining hepatic lesions are stable in size.

2. Previously seen sigmoid malignant mass is less conspicuous on the current examination. There is interval long segment sigmoid colonic bowel thickening, some of which may be due to underdistention or to treatment effects.

3. No significant change in a probable metastases involving the gallbladder. 

4. Interval decrease in gastrohepatic lymphadenopathy, compatible with treatment response.

5. Trace free fluid within the pelvis without definite nodularity.
Attention on follow-up.

Look, we’re beating up my cancer like a little bitch. It’s only going to claim me if I decide to quit fighting it altogether, which is not going to happen. The one-sided battle continues and we continue to use the Force. I feel like dancing.

I must believe
I can do anything
I can heal anyone
I must believe
I am the wind (yeah)
I am the sea
I am the wind
I am the sea
I am the sun
I can be anyone
Oh this world is mine (this world is mine)
For all of time (for all of time)
I can turn any stone
Call any place my home
I can do anything
I know I’m gonna get myself together (yeah)
Use the force
I know I’m gonna work it out
Use the force
I know I’m gonna get myself ahead (yeah)
Use the force
Use the force
I can go eagle high
Circling in the sky
Learn to live my life (no)
I don’t need no strife
I must believe (I must believe. I must believe)
I’m a rocket man (I must believe. I must believe)
I’m a superstar (I must believe. I must believe)
I can be anyone

Progress Report: Part 1

A short post this time — my CT scan has been scheduled for tomorrow afternoon, I’ll get to know the analysis next Tuesday when I go into infusion #5.

Today I bounced out of bed early (for me) and had an incredible day, energy-wise. I’ve not had this much pep for a long while, and being at the midway point between my 4th and 5th infusion, it’s quite puzzling. A big ole bunch of folks must have been thinking of me today, that’s the only explanation. Was it you? Bless you for the extra bump! I feel like I’ve been hovering about 3 inches off the floor all day.

My brother Billy and his family are visiting starting this weekend, hopefully I can get someone to join me at the clinic when I find out about my scan. Because the way I feel, I won’t be surprised if I see progress.

I’ll be back early next week when I can relay results and we’ll see where I’m at with my lovely tumors! Until then, enjoy the emerging springtime, and all of the lovely pollen that coats everything here in NC. Love to all! Lovely lovely lovely!

Nashville

My company’s annual convention, Catalyst, was held in Nashville this past week and I was in attendance to… well, there’s not a lot a graphic designer does at these things, mostly help with running thumb drives loaded with PowerPoint presentations to the laptops in the seminar rooms. Because, dagnabbit, we’re good at it. Usually we have a big recognizable name show up for a keynote. This year Martha Stewart graced us with her presence and she was great. You might be wondering what she has to do with what my company does (help large companies get on e-commerce and track their sales on the platforms they sell on) but her brand is doing well enough selling online that she can participate in those discussions, because if there’s one thing Martha has always been good at, it’s knowing how things operate under the hood. Perhaps too much, after reviewing her rap sheet.

What’s notable about this year’s Catalyst, is that since I opened my big mouth and am now tasked with capturing corporate video more often, we had to locate a freelance graphic designer to take up the slack and process the ponderous mass of on-site graphics and booklets for Catalyst… enter my better half to knock out those graphics in a most satisfactory fashion. Christine had to scramble to get this Death Star image for our President’s keynote presentation, just as one example.

I had been in Nashville on 2 other occasions to review placement of the convention graphics at the venue and had barely enjoyed Broadway, the main street where multiple live bands play in every bar (no cover) because I was basically flying solo in the evenings. You know I’m not the gregarious type who can just stroll into a bar and make friends immediately — actually, I’m not sure I’ve ever witnessed anyone else achieve that who was sober enough to walk into a bar by himself — so I just strolled the streets and stayed away from the festivities in the past. Not so on this trip. Having my co-workers there this time for Catalyst opened up Broadway for me. I discovered a relatively new bar that had just opened called Nudie’s Honky Tonk, a bar dedicated to Nudie Cohn. I fell in love with it immediately, it’s my favorite bar in Nashville now.

During our official Catalyst party at the Wildhorse Saloon I developed a bit of hematuria; the next morning it got a bit worse, and after consulting with my oncologist I was told to go to the ER immediately, probably because of my already-low platelet count. So I dropped everything and hoofed it over to the closest hospital, anxious about making my flight home later that evening. I had to submit a urine sample and it looked like a blood sample. Four and a half hours and a CT scan later, the diagnosis was a simple bladder infection, treatable with antibiotics. They gave me the first dose right there with an IV and it cleared things up immediately. Whew. And I made it home with no issues.

The emergency on Wednesday, just as Catalyst was wrapping up, had plenty of my co-workers on alert. They didn’t want to leave me stranded in the event I had to stay overnight, and set up alternative plans in case I had to. I had brought plenty of gear with me to Nashville but all of my baggage was taken care of, as we had to vacate the venue while I was away. The constant requests for updates and support I received was as if my own family was involved – and in a sense it was: if you have the right people working with you, they are a part of your family and they genuinely care for your well-being. It is another blessing of mine to count my co-workers and the execs I report to as part of my support network. And because there is none of the normal employment-related stress that frequently exists with dealing with certain people at work, it increases my daily positive energy every time I go to the office. I doubt a lot of people can say that, and I’m glad I’m one of the lucky ones. But then, I’ve been pretty lucky so far.

Chemo is next week, the 4th infusion out of…. to be determined. I’m thinking of asking my oncologist to hit me with the full dose of that Vectibix, acne and thinning hair be damned. I believe another CT scan will be scheduled soon, so we can judge the progress of this new chemo regimen, stay tuned for that. Until then, spring is almost here — get out and walk if it’s nice out! I’m feeling a load of positive energy and it’s wonderful. Thank you once more for being here, I love you!

I look 51 and seven-eighths

It was my off-week from chemo this week but I still felt fuzzy until Tuesday night when I saw the video at the end of this post. Since then, I’ve been enjoying loads of energy — 100% here. I’m sure most will not watch this one if they didn’t watch the other video I posted before but I will tell you it got me going again, so it must be good for something. So embrace it for what it is, and participate in the experience, or just take my word for it. The video has hyenas and a Lady Gaga look-alike, so it can’t be that bad.

the energy comes at a good time, as I’ll be working from Nashville next week at my company’s annual tradeshow. We have Martha Stewart there, as well as Scott Galloway. I’m a fanboy and i hope i get close enough to him to lick his bald head next week.

Speaking of bald heads, my chemo regimen continues to wreak havoc. Every time I run my hands thru my hair I get a shower of hair leaving the premises. It’s a horror show when I wash my hair. I’m actually surprised I have any left, but it won’t be long when I’m not surprised. I realize that I should not be complaining, especially to the male members in my family and Scott Galloway, but my point is obviously that when something you perceive as being normal is suddenly not, it is disturbing when it happens.

And the acne… it popped up during my first infusion back in late January, and it’s lingered ever since. We’re over a month and every time I get another dose of chemo I’m going to get another faceful of the stuff. I keep reminding myself, it’s just temporary. But everything is temporary when you think about it.

See you next week, I’m off to eat Hattie B’s hot chicken in Nashville.

Eh Fatty Boom Boom
Hit me with the Ching-ching
Not fokken thinking, dolla eye twinkling
Just a bit of junkie
Let’s not get too funky
Oh oh oo oh